We’ve already heard Brian Cashman said that this year’s GM Meetings were a little more busy than usual. It seems that sentiment stretches beyond the Yankees general manager. Here’s USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with his piece wrapping up this week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix. It includes a lot of references to the Yankees, and it definitely leaves the feeling that several teams laid significant groundwork the in the past week or so.
The four-day Major League Baseball general manager meetings concluded with just two free agent signings and a couple of small trades, but the GMs predicted a potential tidal wave of trade activity over these next few weeks.
“I think it’s going to be an active trade market,” says Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “There’s a lot of aggressive conversations going on. It seems like there’s a lot of teams looking to change their clubs.”
Considering the woefully thin free-agent market, which just lost one of the biggest prizes when DH Victor Martinez agreed Wednesday to a four-year, $68 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, teams have little choice but to interact with one another.
“I expect it will be a pretty busy trade season,” Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels says, “because the free-agent market has areas that are really lacking. It pushes teams toward the trade table.”
The biggest marquee position players on the market are San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, Baltimore Orioles DH Nelson Cruz and Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin.
The Giants want him Sandoval back, and the Boston Red Sox are trying to lure him into a visit next week. Yet, with the Giants showing a sense of urgency, there may be no need for Sandoval to make that Boston flight. The Orioles are doing the same with Cruz, visiting with him Tuesday night in Phoenix.
The Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays may have cornered the market on Martin, and considering the Pirates traded for New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, they realize that it may be time to drop out of this high-priced poker game.
The market has been quiet for the three premium free-agent starting pitchers. Oakland A’s ace Jon Lester is being heavily courted by the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, with the loser likely sent back into the trade market where the Philadelphia Phillies have Cole Hamels waiting. Max Scherzer and James Shields also are awaiting mega offers, which could impact the trade market.
And, once again, the Yankees are being stealth, refusing to tip their hand on whether they’re willing to write a $100 million check, after spending $480 million on last year’s market.
They already have committed $170 million to just 10 players on next year’s payroll, after spending $232 million a year ago, according to the 40-man rosters submitted by teams to Major League Baseball’s central office, and obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
“It will be high, I can tell you that,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman says. “It will be impressive.
“I’m just hopeful the roster will be as impressive.”
The Yankees, who are still hoping to get out of the $61 million they owe Alex Rodriguez, may simply try just to keep their team intact from a year ago, trying to retain free-agent closer David Robertson and starter Brandon McCarthy.
Yet, after missing the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time in 20 years, agent Scott Boras says the Yankees may have no choice but to call his Newport Beach, Calif. office, and enter the Scherzer sweepstakes.
“The Steinbrenner history has always been we’re going to win,” Boras says. “It serves their brand. It serves their model to do everything they can to win.”
“This guy is a No. 1 pitcher. There aren’t that many of them. It’s the difference between a good team and a World Series team.”
The game is so flush with money these days that even the Miami Marlins are willing to write the biggest check in franchise history to retain Giancarlo Stanton, who’s eligible for free agency in two years. They’ve had serious conversations about a long-term contract, ranging from six to 10 years in length.
“We’re trying to get away from having to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Marlins president Mike Hill says. “Enough of that. We want to win.”
The Marlins will keep Stanton through at least this season, no matter whether he signs an extension or not, Hill says. They have let teams know they won’t even listen to trade proposals, so teams stopped asking.
“We’ve been up front since last offseason that we weren’t trading him,” Hill said. “I think that message has been received.”
While Stanton will remain in Miami, there are plenty of other All-Star outfielders on the open trade market. The Boston Red Sox are listening on Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and the Dodgers have teams know they are willing to trade Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or even Matt Kemp.
Just not Yasiel Puig.
“I think that’s most likely the best course of action,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. “Things play out in different ways, but I’ll be surprised if it’s not in a way to move an outfielder to address an area that’s not as deep.”
The Atlanta Braves also have two of the finest young outfielders available on the market in Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, and are shopping catcher Evan Gattis, too.
“We obviously have all options open,” said John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations. “Nothing is settled here.”
Or anywhere else for that matter.
It’s that time of year.
Let the trades begin.
Associated Press photos
In announcing on Friday that both Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher were being fired, general manager Brian Cashman stopped short of blaming them for the Yankees shortcomings, but he made it clear that the organization felt the need to make some sort of change.
“We let the season play out, let everybody put all hands in,” Cashman said. “We were able to fix a number of issues, but the one issue we couldn’t fix was the offense.”
It was Long who seemed most on the hot seat after the Yankees finished 13th in the American League in runs scored. That said, it’s only fair to mention that through Long’s first six years as hitting coach, the Yankees were consistently among the highest-scoring teams in the game.
“I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything,’” Cashman said. “I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”
So the Yankees know they’ve had success with Long in the past, and they seem happy with the work he did this season. The decision to fire him is where the vagaries of the job come into play.
Was Carlos Beltran’s bad season because of the coaching he received or because of the bone spur in his elbow? Could a different hitting coach have gotten more out of Mark Teixeira or has Teixeira simply declined as a hitter? Is there someone who can better teach Brian McCann to beat the shift, or is he simply a player susceptible to defensive adjustments?
“I don’t make changes lightly,” Cashman said. “I’ve never made a coaching change in-season. Not one. It takes a lot for me to make some adjustments, and obviously the belief is always to try to find better and upgrade if I can. It’s tough because I know Kevin’s good at what he does. I believe (that), but I’m looking for a different voice maybe with a different message and approach to some degree. It’s my job to continue to find different ways to improve upon the offensive side. That will be from some internal options, some external options, and obviously by today’s conversation, it’s also going to be from a change in the leadership from the dugout.”
An overall change in leadership also seems to be at the root of the Kelleher decision. A wildly popular personality in the clubhouse, Kelleher was responsible for an infield that played poor defense in the first half of the season, yet Cashman made it clear that he placed the defensive blame on the players themselves. Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts simply were not a good defensive group in the first half.
“I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies,” Cashman said. “That was personnel related.”
It seems, then, that the decision to let Kelleher go was about opening a spot for a new addition as much as anything.
“I think the overall direction of the staff as we move forward will be better served with some personnel that we’re going to interview,” Cashman said. “As you change the dynamic of the staff, it has to come at the expense of some personnel. In this case, it’s Mick. There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff. That despite Mick’s high qualities, some of the people I’m interested in talking to will do the same. I don’t want to go into any specifics. I think Mick is good at what he does, he’s a good infield instructor and he’s very positive, but there are some more things that I want to add to the staff with Joe Girardi. And in my dialogue with Joe, we look forward to interviewing some personnel that can bring those things to the table.”
Associated Press photo
Just a few quick notes and some leftovers from today’s Brian Cashman conference call:
• Anything Kevin Long could have or should have done differently with this offense? “I think he tried everything in his power,” Cashman said. “By his own assessment, I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything.’ I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”
• On whether Mick Kelleher was to blame for the Yankees defensive problems in the first half: “That was more personnel-related,” Cashman said. “When we lost players like Cano, for instance, who was an exceptional defender, to free agency; or when we lost Alex to a suspension, for instance. We had Derek Jeter coming back, as well as Mark Teixeira, from injury. Those players possessed a certain amount of ability, and I think Mick addressed that to the best of his abilities. As we were able to acquire better defenders as the season went on and they presented themselves, we obviously improved our team defense. I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies. That was personnel related.”
• Interesting comment about the decision to get rid of Kelleher: “There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward, (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff.”
• The latest on Alex Rodriguez’s offseason workouts: “Matt Krause, our strength coach, just visited with him yesterday in Miami to continue the process that I talked to you all about in Boston at Fenway Park at the end of the season,” Cashman said. “That we’re going to be reconnecting with Alex, all of our staff. Alex reached out and said, ‘Hey, let’s start proactively doing that.’ That’s what Alex is about. He’s proactive and trying to put himself in the best position to be successful and hit the ground running when he gets reactivated.”
• On whether the Yankees want to bring back Dave Robertson or let Dellin Betances transition into the closer role: “What happens as we move forward with (Robertson) and the qualifying offer is yet to be determined,” Cashman said. “But we thank David, and we’re proud of what he’s done here and how he’s handled himself here. The final decision that has to be made here first and foremost is yet to be made. Because of that I don’t think it’s really fair to speculate on alternatives in house. It’s obviously a tough role, and if you’ve never done it, I’d answer that question the same way I answered it maybe to David’s anguish last year, all winter, where I would not assume that anybody could do that. It’s just not that type of role that you could guarantee someone can easily transition to.”
• Any other coaching changes coming? “These are the moves we’re making,” Cashman said. “And any other moves that we choose to make or want to pursue, obviously we’ll reveal them. If we choose to make any other changes we’ll let you know, otherwise everything is status quo until then.”
Associated Press photo
Here’s the official announcement from the team:
Cashman, 47, joined the Yankees organization in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the Minor League and Scouting Department and has served in his current role since February 3, 1998. In all, his clubs have earned a postseason berth in 14 of his 17 seasons as GM (1998-2007, ’09-12), claimed 12 Division titles, six American League championships and four World Series titles. His feat of reaching the playoffs in each of his first 10 seasons (1998-2007) remains unmatched in Baseball history.
Over the course of his time with the Yankees, he has earned five World Series rings, including four as General Manager, becoming the first GM to win four World Series titles since the Dodgers’ Buzzie Bavasi in the 1950s and ‘60s. He has earned his World Series titles with two managers – Joe Torre and Joe Girardi.
Cashman has the third-longest tenure among current general managers in Baseball (behind San Francisco’s Brian Sabean and Oakland’s Billy Beane) and is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Hall of Famer Ed Barrow led the team from October 28, 1920, to February 20, 1945.
He became the second-youngest General Manager in Baseball history when he was named to the post at age 30. In his first season in 1998, he became the youngest-ever GM to win a World Series. With subsequent championships in 1999 and 2000, he became the only GM in Baseball history to win world titles in each of his first three seasons. A pennant in 2001 gave him four straight League Championships, placing him alongside Barrow (1936-39, four) and fellow Yankees Hall of Famer George Weiss (1949-53, five) as the only GMs in Baseball history to win four-or-more straight league titles at any point in their careers.
Cashman’s lifetime winning percentage of .594 (1,633-1,117-2) is the highest of any General Manager with at least five seasons of experience since 1950, and marks the best team winning percentage in the Major Leagues since 1998.
His career as a full-time Yankees employee began following his graduation from Catholic University in 1989, when he became a full-time Assistant in Baseball Operations. He was later promoted and transferred to Tampa, Fla., where he served as Assistant Farm Director from 1990 to 1992. He returned to New York and became Assistant General Manager, Baseball Administration in November 1992.
Associated Press photo
First things first: Find a general manager • 09.30.14
The Yankees usually hold organizational meetings almost immediately after the season ends, but as general manager Brian Cashman stood in front of the Yankees dugout on Saturday, his immediate schedule was a little unclear.
“We’ve got (Sunday) to play and after that, we’ll go from there,” Cashman said. “I have no meetings scheduled currently.”
No meetings because Cashman has no contract beyond the month of October. Before the Yankees can truly move forward with offseason plans — and there’s clearly work to be done — they’re going to have to officially put someone in charge of rebuilding this team.
“My stuff’s not really resolved, so there have been no discussions just yet,” Cashman said. “That will all wait for another day. I don’t want to talk about game-planning or focus, what should or shouldn’t be looked at. I’ll wait until we all sit down with ownership, they can map out their strategy and who’s going to be a part of that, and we can go from there.”
Right now, there’s really little reason to think Cashman won’t be back. The Yankees front office has generally shown nothing but support for their long-time GM, and Cashman has not indicated that he wants to move on. Should the Yankees make a change? I’m sure there are plenty of strong opinions in favor, and that’s understandable given three hard facts.
1. Back-to-back seasons missing the playoffs.
2. Lack of offensive production from the farm system.
3. Spending nearly a half billion dollars this winter and not getting so much as a wild card.
Those are pretty glaring negatives. I would argue that last season really did feel fluky given all of the long-term injuries to the lineup (the easy counter argument is that this is what you get with an aging roster, which goes back to the lack of production from within the system). I would also argue that the farm system is coming off a strong season and that the Yankees have produced quite a bit of quality pitching (again, easy counter argument is that the team’s expected-to-be-high-end talent has failed to reach a high-end ceiling, and every team stumbles into a productive role player now and then). I would also argue that Cashman did have some real wins this season from taking a shot on Masahiro Tanaka’s talent, to getting some surprising production out of Yangervis Solarte and Chris Capuano, to trading for Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley and Martin Prado (counter argument: finding bit parts and one injured starter wasn’t nearly enough to make the playoffs).
With serious holes to fill, the Yankees first order of business is determining whether Cashman is still the man to run the show.
“I don’t anticipate anything,” Cashman said. “My contract runs through October 31 and I can’t tell you anything past that. When and if decisions get made, you guys will be brought in the loop.”
Associated Press photo
Hal speaks on Yankees issues • 06.04.13
Hal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:
On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”
On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”
On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”
On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”
More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”
On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way. I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”
On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’
On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”
On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”
Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Brian Cashman came right out and said it. If the Yankees had it to do over, they would not have played Kevin Youkilis Saturday against the Blue Jays.
“Playing him Saturday was a mistake by everybody involved,” Cashman said.
The GM indicated that Youkilis tweaked his back when he slid into first defensively in that game after sitting out the previous six games. The Yankees lost a chance to backdate him on the DL to April 21. Now that they finally put him on the DL, they could only backdate him to Sunday. Not that they can be sure that he’ll be ready to go when he’s eligible.
Asked if this is only a 15-day thing, Cashman said, “I’m hoping for that. He was down for 23 days last April with the same issue.”
Youkilis was told not to bother coming to the Stadium today after receiving an epidural injection for his lumbar spine sprain.
The Yankees still have no regular backup on the left side of the infield. The starting shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, is the main backup for Jayson Nix at third and vice versa. Corban Joseph may get some time over at third in a pinch. Joe Girardi said he could back up at first, second and third, but Cashman spoke about how bad Joseph looked at third in spring training. Joseph primarily played second at Triple-A with a couple of games at first.
Cashman said Joseph was called up because he was on the 40-man roster. The Yankees couldn’t call up David Adams because they released him at the end of spring training, so he’s ineligible to play for them until May 15. Asked about the backup infield situation, Cashman said, “I’ve got no choice.”
Cashman also said Ivan Nova’s triceps inflammation is “mild.” Girardi said Curtis Granderson is getting closer to playing in rehab games, and he’s hoping to have both Granderson and Youkilis back for the stretch of division games May 17. But he didn’t think Mark Teixeira would be ready by then, saying that he’s still only taking dry swings.
Derek Jeter is confident that whenever he returns — which is expected to be sometime after the All-Star break — he will be the same player he was before he broke his left ankle twice. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman want to think the quality will still be there when the healing process is over.
“I don’t think any of us are going to know until we get to that point,” Girardi said. “… He’s had a setback here and we have to deal with it. But hopefully we get him back and he’s the same player he was at the end of last year. …
“He hasn’t done anything in his career that would make me believe that he’s not going to be a good player when he comes back. Yeah, I know it’s nine months off, but players get four or five months off in the offseason and then come back and they’re fine.
“I don’t think the extra few months is necessarily going to hurt him. I don’t think he’s going to forget how to hit, forget how to do all the things he needs to do. I think some people will question how he’s going to move when he’s going to come back. That’s something that we hope won’t be a problem. We’re just going to have to wait and see.”
Cashman said: “Obviously Derek has never done anything but have success. So I would expect a successful player like we’ve always gotten from him. It’s hard to expect anything otherwise from a Hall of Famer like himself.”
Here’s the link to my story on Jeter believing he will come back as the same guy and not seeing the two fractures as a sign the end is near. Plus, here’s the link to my story on Hiroki Kuroda, Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano triple teaming to lead the Yankees past the Blue Jays last night.
How do you think Jeter will do when he returns at 39?
The good, the bad and the mixed reviews • 01.21.13
When I choose Pinch Hitter posts, I try to find both sides of an argument. I look for some guest posters with a pessimistic view, and I look for some who are firm optimists. When Daniel first emailed me to suggest today’s pinch hitter topic, his proposal was built around these two sentences:
I truly believe the only way the Yankees will compete this season and next with this austerity budget looming will be via trades for young impact players like Justin Upton. I have not seen Brian Cashman, in my opinion, make a feasible trade since 2008 and the Nick Swisher trade so my confidence is at an all time low.
I was expecting an indictment of Cashman’s trade history, not a conclusion of full confidence, and my guess is that Daniel wasn’t expecting that conclusion either.
It’s tricky business trying to make an absolute, black-and-white evaluation of any team’s trade, draft and free agent history. There are going to be highs and lows, and even those highs and lows — with a few exceptions — are going to come with mixed reviews. The Nick Swisher deal was an absolute win for the Yankees. The Pedro Feliciano signing was a clear loss. But those are in the minority.
The A.J. Burnett signing depends on how much weight you put into his 2009 World Series performance.
The Jesus Montero trade depends on how well Michael Pineda comes back from shoulder surgery.
The Javier Vazquez trade depends on the development of Dante Bichette Jr., and whether you believe the Yankees would have kept Melky Cabrera long enough to see him emerge (and whether you believe his emergence would have stained the clubhouse).
The Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy draft depends on how you feel about the Joba Rules and the Curtis Granderson trade, and the Curtis Granderson trade depends on how you feel about Granderson’s soon-to-be four years with the Yankees and whether the Yankees need a younger center fielder, and whether the Yankees need a younger center fielder might depend on the development of Slade Heathcott, who was only drafted as compensation because the Yankees were unable to sign Gerrit Cole in 2008, which was the same draft that yielded David Phelps, who might not have gotten a big league chance last season had Pineda not been injured and Burnett not been traded.
Point is, it’s hard to put any of this in a vacuum and make a definitive statement. On a case-by-case basis, we can argue and deliberate and form opinions, but the collective moves of a front office rarely fit under a universal heading. There are positives and negatives, fodder for the pessimists and the optimists alike, and that’s why we can spend an entire winter — each and every winter — having the same basic debate over and over again.
Associated Press photo
Pinch hitting: Daniel Burch • 01.21.13
Up next in our Pinch Hitters series is Daniel Burch, who was born 27 years ago in Lebanon Hospital overlooking the old Yankee Stadium. Daniel has since moved to Atlanta and says that the Yankees are “easily the biggest thing that I miss from living in New York.” Daniel started his own blog, The Greedy Pinstripes, and calls himself a confessed “prospect hugger and anti austerity fan.”
Makes sense, then, that Daniel suggested a post about Brian Cashman’s trade history and whether Yankees fans should trust their general manager to make the necessary moves to keep the Yankees winning without a $200-million payroll.
For fans spoiled to grow up watching the Yankees during the dynasty years of the mid 90′s until as recently as 2009, we have all seen guys come through the system like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and a plethora of others guys that I am unintentionally forgetting. We have also seen the Yankees go out and bid against themselves to get the biggest free agent prizes like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Hideki Matsui, and probably 600 other free agents that George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have gotten into pinstripes. With a seemingly infinite budget — in free agency, on the international market and in the draft — the Yankees and Cashman have not been afraid to pull off big trades involving prospects for proven veteran pieces to make another World Series run. It was fun to watch until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and its harsher penalties for repeat luxury tax offenders.
The idea to get under the $189-million threshold to save some money and restart the penalties makes sense on paper, but does it make sense in the real world? I personally have my doubts, and my question has always been whether the fiscal savings by getting under the threshold would outweigh the fiscal hit the Yankees would take if we were mediocre on the field not only in 2014 but this season as well. Can the Yankees really compete in a deep and competitive American League East AND follow through with the austerity budget in what seems to be a rebuilding project? Sure, we can, but the only way that is going to happen is if we put our faith into Cashman’s alter ego: Ninja Cashman.
Let’s not beat around the bush: Our farm system, especially in the upper levels, is depleted and barren and not going to really help us in major spots in 2013 and beyond besides for maybe a David Adams, Corban Joseph, Adam Warren, or a Mark Montgomery. While those are nice pieces for depth or in a pinch, aside from Montgomery, none of these guys is a can’t-miss type that we will need to keep the payroll down and still compete. The only way we are going to get this done is if Ninja Cashman can pull off a trade or two that brings us a young and effective piece without creating too many other holes. But can we really bank on that? I am glad that you asked…
I took it upon myself to look at the past six seasons worth of trades, no matter how minor, and evaluate each one specifically to determine whether we should really put our faith into Ninja Cash or if we should expect to miss the playoffs the next two seasons. I am just going to hit the high spots because I do not think anyone puts much weight into trades like when we acquired Justin Maxwell from the Nationals in 2011 for some guy whose name I cannot pronounce and have to copy and paste his last name (Adam Olbrychowski) to make sure the spelling is correct. Let’s look and evaluate the trade history of Ninja Cash:
On July 23, 2012 the Yankees traded minor leaguers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki. This trade worked out beautifully for the Yankees because we were never going to give either of the young guys a shot for the big club, and in 67 games Ichiro gave us a 0.8 WAR, wreaked havoc on the base paths, and was one of the few Yankees to not totally disappear when the calendar changed to October. Verdict: Good Trade
On April 4, 2012 Cashman traded George Kontos to the Giants for Chris Stewart. This trade never made much sense to me because, while I can agree that relievers are a dime a dozen and Kontos was not exactly young or a “can’t miss guy,” can you not say the same thing about backup, defensive-minded, no-bat catchers? And that’s especially relevant when the Yankees already had a capable backup in Francisco Cervelli. Kontos went on to have a pretty good season for the eventual World Series champions, while we were without guys like Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain. Stewart did nothing of note for the Yankees. Granted Stewart looks more and more like our starting catcher in 2013, which I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, so there is time to get some value out of this trade. Verdict: Bad Trade
On January 23, 2012 the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Mariners. As much as this trade hurt because I have watched Montero come through the system and salivated at the idea of his power in Yankee Stadium, the trade made sense because Pineda was a power arm with five years left of team control and filled a need. Campos was also considered to be able to walk into camp and be listed in our Top 5 Prospects list right away. He had much more potential then Noesi ever thought of having. The trade is obviously incomplete as even after the 2013 season we will still have three years left of Pineda, and Campos is still only in Charleston. You have to wonder if Pineda will ever come back and be effective for the Yankees, and the only redeeming factor in this trade is the fact that Montero once again seems to be without a true position and did not exactly tear the cover off of the ball while Noesi got lit up in Safeco. Verdict: Fair Trade
On July 31, 2010 the Yankees acquired “Kid K” Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for two players to be named later — who turned out to be Matt Cusik and Andrew Shive — and cash. Kerry came over and absolutely dominated out of the Yankees pen with a 0.69 ERA in the second half while, to date neither, Shive nor Cusik has done anything for the tribe. Verdict: Good Trade
On December 22, 2009 the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez. While in Atlanta, Cabrera was absolutely terrible, allowed to leave as a free agent, and eventually signed with Kansas City. Dunn has not done anything to lose sleep over, and Vizcaino is going to miss the 2013 season with Tommy John surgery. While Logan has been somewhat of the LOOGY we have been searching for the last five to ten seasons, Vazquez was absolutely terrible for the Yankees. It is a lot to give up just for essentially a LOOGY, but since we did not give up anything that has come back to bite us to date this trade gets my approval. Verdict: Good Trade
On December 8, 2009 the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Tigers hooked up in a three-team trade that saw The Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson from Detroit while giving up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers and sending Ian Kennedy to Arizona with other lesser pieces moving back and forth. Granderson started out well for the Yankees and has compiled a 13.2 WAR since the trade. The pieces we gave up have compiled a 26.8 WAR in the same time period. Jackson has turned into one of the better leadoff men and center fielders in the American League, Coke has dominated us in the playoffs out of the pen, and Kennedy is one season removed from becoming a 20-game winner. Granderson has forgotten how to take routes in center field and has become an all-or-nothing kind of home run hitter that the Yankees were trying to get away from. Verdict: Bad Trade
Our final trade we are going to look at was on November 13, 2008 when the Yankees acquire Nick Swisher and reliever Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit, Jeffrey Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. This was a classic buy low move after Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago and rebounded nicely in four seasons for the Yankees. We gave up nothing of note and got a fan favorite in return that the Yankees are scrambling and struggling to replace after leaving via free agency this season. Swisher has compiled a 15 WAR in his time in pinstripes where Betemit, Marquez, and Nunez combined have brought Chicago a 2 WAR. Verdict: Excellent Trade
I know that I have missed a few trades, but for the sake of space, I hit the high spots and went over the bigger of the trades. According to my tally, I have one excellent trade, three good trades, one fair trade, and two bad trades. Trades, much like the MLB draft, are a crap shoot because you never know what you are going to get, but on the bigger trades Ninja Cash seems to get the better end of the deal more often than not.
I am not the most patient Yankees fan, and I definitely hate settling for anyone less then Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton this offseason — hence the name Greedy Pinstripes. My faith in my General Manager and the team’s commitment to winning will never waiver. Ninja Cash has been fantastic at finding cheap value late in the offseason and in trades, and I have full confidence that he will again in 2013 and 2014 to keep this team in contention.
Associated Press photos